Chimney Sweeping – Why and How Often?

How regularly a chimney should be swept can be an area of contention, mainly because there is a cost involved, but if every stove owner was aware of the devasting and sometimes fatal consequences of a chimney fire, there would be no debate. As there are no laws or building regulations governing the sweeping of chimneys, we can only advise best practice, and as responsible suppliers, we do so on the side of caution.

Why Does a Chimney Need to be Swept?

Firstly, and most crucially, as smoke rises up the chimney and cools, or the wood being used is ‘wet’, creosote and soot are deposited within the chimney. This is ignitable and could lead to a chimney fire if not removed. Secondly, any blockages caused by the build up of soot and tar or bird nests will negatively impact the draw and performance of your burner. Clear signs you need a sweep asap are:

  • Reduced performance of your stove
  • Soot and/or tar is running down into the stove or leaking out
  • Smoke is pouring into the room rather than going up the flue
  • You notice a bad smell both when the stove is in use and when it isn’t

How and Who?

Sweeping a chimney can be a messy business if not carried out by a professional, so we advise only contacting qualified sweeps or members of the various associations outlined below. Your sweep may use traditional methods or more modern equipment, but they will all sweep from the bottom of the chimney with sufficient protective equipment to ensure your home is left as clean as possible.

The chimney sweeping associations to contact are:

How Often Should Your Chimney Be Swept?

So this is the big question and there’s no one answer, only recommendations. Firstly, a chimney must be swept a bare minimum of once every year. Current HETAS advice is at least twice a year for wood burning and at least once a year for smokeless fuels but in an ideal world, a chimney is swept prior to the first burn of the year and after every burning season, so that’s potentially Spring, Autumn and Winter… Having your chimney swept annually will help you avoid becoming one of the 2540 chimney fires that occurred in England alone last year.

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